Bike Racks Buyers Guide

Whether you're going away on holiday and want to explore the local roads, or you're off to the races every week, a bike rack is a really practical way of getting your bike from A to B (without pedalling).

Having a bike rack on your car gives you more room to pack the inside of your car full of people and luggage, as well as not having to worry about muddy or oily bikes making a mess of your car.

What do I need to consider before I choose which type of carrier to buy?

First, you'll need to consider what vehicle you're using, as not every bike rack fits every car. The kind of car you drive has a big impact on how you'll need to carry your bikes.

It's also important to think about what else you might need to carry on your vehicle. Planning on using the boot of the car? Then you might not want a rear mounted cycle carrier, as you'll need to remove it from the vehicle each time you want to open the boot. If you're taking a roof box with you, make sure there's still plenty of space on your bars to carry a roof mounted cycle carrier.

Roof mounted bike racks

Unsurprisingly, roof mounted bike racks place the bikes on the roof of the car. You'll need a set of roof bars to fit these.

  • You can normally fit up to 4 bikes on the roof, or fewer bikes and a narrow roof box.
  • The rear of the car is free, so you can still open the boot or attach a trailer or caravan.
  • They hold bikes securely, and many are lockable.
  • Your number plate and lights will still be visible.
  • Each carrier can typically carry a bike up to 15kg, but check the roof carrying limit of your vehicle and bars.
  • If you have a very tall car, you might struggle to get the bikes on and off the roof if you don't have something to stand on!

Rear mounted bike racks

These bike racks are often the least expensive. They attach to the back of your car, normally with a set of straps. Rear mounted cycle carriers only fit certain vehicles, though, so be sure take a look at the fitment guides (or pop in and see us in store) to ensure you choose the right one for your vehicle.

  • Rear mounted bike racks are normally the cheapest, so are ideal for occasional use.
  • You can carry up to 3 bikes.
  • They don't need any extras, like roof bars or a tow bar, which can add to the cost if you don't have them already.
  • Fitting is vehicle specific, so you need to make sure you choose the right one for your vehicle. Certain vehicle body types, such as plastic spoilers and split boots, may not be suitable.
  • They can't normally be locked - you can pass a lock through the bikes, but the rack can still be removed.
  • If your lights and number plate are covered you'll also need a lighting board.

Tow bar mounted bike racks

Another way to carry your bikes is to use a bike rack that attaches to a tow bar. Tow bar mounted cycle carriers have two advantages; as well as being really sturdy, they hold the bikes nice and low so you can get to them more easily!

  • Can carry up to 4 bikes.
  • Mounts directly onto the vehicle's tow bar, leaving the roof free to carry other loads.
  • Most models come with a lighting board attached, but you'll need to get an extra number plate.
  • Some models will tilt out of the way, allowing you to access the boot.
  • The bikes can be locked to the rack, and the rack to the car.
  • It's easy to lift the bikes onto the rack, meaning they're good for tall cars - or short people!

Spare wheel mounted bike racks

If you've got a 4x4 with a spare wheel on the back, you normally can't fit a rear mounted bike rack. Spare wheel mounted cycle carriers attach to the wheel instead, so you can carry your bikes without fitting a tow bar.

  • No need to fit a tow bar or roof bars.
  • The roof is still free for all your kit.

How do I know what will fit?

Tow bar bike racks and roof mounted bike racks aren't vehicle-specific - you just need to have either a tow bar or roof bars fitted and the racks can be fitted to these, regardless of what vehicle you drive.

If you'd prefer a rear mounted cycle carrier then you'll need to check the fitment guide for this kind of carrier. You can use our vehicle lookup tool to help you, or check the fitment guides on each product page.

Still not sure? Pop along to your local store and ask - we'll be more than happy to help you!

Bike rack fitting at Halfords

If you'd like to get your bike rack professionally fitted, you're in luck! We can fit your cycle carriers from just £15/€20. All you need to do is get in touch with your local store to arrange a time that's convenient.

As you can see, you can carry your bikes on almost any kind of car - without having to worry about fitting them inside! Head over to our range of bike racks to have a look and plan your next adventure.

See all Bike Racks